House of Sand and Fog (Oprah's Book Club) Paperback – 1 Feb 2000
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|Paperback, 1 Feb 2000||
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Andre Dubus III wastes no time in capturing the dark side of the immigrant experience in America at the end of the 20th century. House of Sand and Fog opens with a highway crew comprising several nationalities picking up litter on a hot California summer day. Massoud Amir Behrani, a former colonel in the Iranian military under the Shah, reflects on his job-search efforts since arriving in the U.S. four years before: "I have spent hundreds of dollars copying my credentials; I have worn my French suits and my Italian shoes to hand-deliver my qualifications; I have waited and then called back after the correct waiting time; but there is nothing." The father of two, Behrani has spent most of the money he brought with him from Iran on an apartment and furnishings that are too expensive, desperately trying to keep up appearances in order to enhance his daughter's chances of making a good marriage. Now the daughter is married, he sinks his remaining funds into a house he buys at auction, thus unwittingly putting himself and his family on a trajectory with disaster. The house, it seems, once belonged to Kathy Nicolo, a self-destructive alcoholic who wants it back. What starts out as a legal tussle soon escalates into a personal confrontation--with dire results.
Dubus tells his tragic tale from the viewpoints of the two main adversaries, Behrani and Kathy. To both of them, the house represents something more than just a place to live. For the colonel, it is a foot in the door of the American Dream; for Kathy, a reminder of a kinder, gentler past. In prose that is simple yet evocative The House of Sand and Fog builds to its inevitable denouement: one that is painfully dark but unfailingly honest. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A page-turner with a beating heart.
[A] fine and prophetic novel.
A page-turner with a beating heart. "
[A] fine and prophetic novel. "
A mixture of classical tragedy perfectly imbued with film noir. . . . [T]he work of a writer who is the real thing.
Elegant and powerful. . . . An unusual and volatile literary thriller. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Author Dubus tells the story from the perspective of three characters: Kathy Nicolo, who owns and loses a modest, 3-bedroom bungalow in northern California and who is a recovering coke addict and alcoholic; a former colonel from the Shah's Iranian military and now a legal citizen of America who acquires Kathy's house through a county auction; and an intelligent though troubled and dissatisfied American policemen who starts a relationship with Kathy after serving the official eviction notice
This is a book as much about the effects of bureaucratic mistakes and their attendant nightmares, as it is about people and their almost fated inabilities to break free of bad habits and destructive behaviours. At the same time, it's about life in a free country, dreams of betterment, and shaking free of the past.
Big themes. Well handled.
The different perspectives show the American dream and our unalienable rights --- shelter, prosperity, the pursuit of happiness or, failing that, at least a decent enough relationship. The reader is never really certain which character deserves the most empathy; they each have their fatal flaws and also their very real charms.
As the story builds to its tragic conclusion, you will find yourself completely gripped and increasingly worried. This is a page-turner. And it's very, very good. While the book could have done with some good editing towards the end --- maybe ten or 15 fewer pages, especially regarding Les Burdon, the policeman --- it is well worth reading and really memorable.
It is the story of Colonel Behrani, a formerly wealthy Iranian, who had thrived under the regime of the Shah, only to have lost everything during his country's revolution. Now, he and his family find themselves undergoing the immigrant experience in America, working to maintain appearances among their fellow exiles, and finding the going hard. Working long hours at menial jobs, Colonel Behrani longs to be a master of the universe again.
It is also the story of Kathy Nicolo, a woman with some serious issues. She is a sad and pathetic bottom feeder, who has lost nearly everything in life, including the one thing that has kept her somewhat anchored: the house she inherited from her father. She is a loser and innocuous bumbler who has totally squandered her life. When she loses that which she holds most dear, her house, and is summarily evicted from it, she meets Sheriff Lester Burden, a married man with children, who is smitten by her. His obsession with her would lead him down a path from which there would be no return.
When Colonel Behrani's quest for the American Dream finds him with an opportunity to buy a house at a bargain basement price at a county auction, he plunks down the remainder of his family's life savings. At the time, he knows nothing of the circumstances of the county's possession of that house, Kathy's house. He and his family move in.Read more ›
It's certainly not a light read and I wouldn't say that it falls into the page turner category, but it was one of the most unusual and eventful books I've read in a long time. Andre Dubus manages to describe the environment and the inner turmoil of the characters in a very accurate way and with an interesting and colourful choice of words.
There's no hero in this book. There are no innocents (other than perhaps the Colonel's son). The main characters are treated both with the sympathy and contempt they deserve. Rather than falling for the obvious trap of making one person the victim, Dubus shows them for what they are, human and fallible, and this only adds to the readability of this book. As the reader you're torn between whom to side with as you can see both parties' point of view, but nothing will prepare you for the ending.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Started well but got less and less believable towards the end. All my book group agreed on feeling irritated and frustrated with all the characters and having very little sympathy... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Victoria Sullivan
Previewed in 2004 and repeated on Radio 4Extra, good but a bit ragged at the end?!?!Published 3 months ago by phil clement
Strong central performances by Connelly and Kingsley, working hard to bring to life such tragic characters in a sometimes hurried and occasionally slapdash screenplay of a... Read morePublished 10 months ago by russell Banks Garn
Brilliant and very moving account of a 'muddle' that develops into a tragedy. Reminiscent of E.M. Forster's concerns in the scope of the novel; clearly worlds apart in manner of... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Vivian Darkbloom
very different novel which works on a number of levels looking at two different cultures and lifestyles. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Katie
This is simply a brilliant book, I have lent my copy to friends and I'm buying copies for presents, everyone has raved about it. Read morePublished 20 months ago by H. Pinoff
This book was on my wishlist for years, then on my TBR pile for years, and now it’s been in my review queue for about a month, it’s almost as if the fates are against it. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Lucybird